As of today, the wait is over.
The past several months that have comprised the 2012 NFL offseason have perhaps been no more intriguing as they've been for the Seattle Seahawks. For a team that began the year 2-6 and showed very little signs of life, only to finish out the second half of the year at 5-3, the sky could only be hinting at what their limit truly is. Turning things around in the fashion that they did was no small accomplishment, and the front office furthered that feat by adding talent around both sides of the ball since March.
We had no idea how this team would look until today.
And though at times it was obvious that this was the team's first day of camp, (that IS, after all, why practice is necessary), the same flashes of brilliance were as present as ever -- at times, from unlikely contributors. Here's what sprang at me as the most obvious standouts first:
- Tavaris Jackson did indeed get the bulk of the first-team reps, as Pete Carroll promised. And in all honesty, Tavaris looked like Tavaris: rocket arm, decent mobility, but freezes in the pocket to watch it collapse around him when he can't find an open man.
- That's where Matt Flynn already appears to be an upgrade over Jackson. He might not quite have the arm strength of T-Jax, but Flynn showed several times that he's not afraid to take the checkdown when the defense comes in hot. Flynn's accuracy also seemed spot-on, and his chemistry with WR Doug Baldwin is already apparent.
- WR Sidney Rice sported a red non-contact jersey, as he's still recovering from shoulder surgeries in the offseason. More encouragingly, though, was LB Barrett Rudd, who appeared to be a full go after initial concerns about his own health. Ruud missed the majority of last season when he played for the Tennessee Titans.
- QB Russell Wilson also has a cannon arm, but as much as I hate to say it, his height did appear to be an issue for him at times. He rolls out and scrambles with the best of them, but he had some balls tipped at the line of scrimmage. His development will hinge largely on how OC Darrell Bevell plans to use him.
- The first-team defense was all over the offense in 11-on-11 drills. DE Alan Branch had a nice pass breakup, S Jeron Johnson was impressive in press coverage, and Earl Thomas looks even faster than he ever has before. Does this guy work out with Flash Gordon in the offseason?
- My candidate for Breakout Player of the Year in 2012 is WR Ricardo Lockette. Not only did he catch nearly everything thrown at him, but he consistently beat corners to the punch while doing it. His speed and excellent hands are going to make him dangerous in this offense.
- WR Phil Bates, an undrafted rookie out of Ohio, could be making it difficult to keep him off the roster. He made a diving sideline catch from Matt Flynn at one point that drew a great reaction from the crowd.
- RBs Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin both showed a similar running style. It's obvious why he was drafted - he looks like a perfect fit in the ground game and should be a serviceable back when Beast Mode needs a breather. Guys his size shouldn't run as fast as he does.
But the upside was tempered with realism today, as officials threw a number of flags on penalties such as off sides, false starts, and pass interference. This team is hungry, and some of that raw talent still needs to be chiseled with experience and maturity. That being said, a hungry team is a good problem to have. That fire is going to be nothing short of critical when it comes time to open the season in Arizona come September.
I have a feeling they'll be ready.